Understanding Mobility Aides
As people age, the senses and abilities they once had tend to decrease. This includes things like hearing, vision, balance and movement. For mobility issues in particular, they stem from a deterioration of muscle strength that comes with age.
Some common mobility issues with the elderly include:
- Trouble with steps, stairs, and inclines
- Issues on uneven ground or loose surfaces
- Trouble walking long distances
In each of these circumstances, a senior may find great benefit in a mobility aide. Before getting one, however, he or she will need to get an assessment for the type of equipment that would best suit their needs. The senior can do that by going to a physiotherapist, who may have some thoughts about the kind of help the elder needs. Those thoughts might include ideas on learning about mobility techniques (like going up and down the stairs easier) and mobility exercises to help improve strength and balance. Making sure they have the right footwear can also help with stability and support, and the use of one or more mobility aides can help as well.
Now, let’s look at some of the many types of mobility aides and their differences:
Canes can be really helpful when the elder’s biggest issue stems from balance. They give a simple solution to help prevent falls and instill more confidence. There are folding or straight models, and if they need to put more weight onto the cane, a “quad cane”—it has four tips instead of just one—would likely be their best choice. There are also canes that come with seats. Though they are heavier and bulkier than the standard version, they have a small seat, which is great if rest is needed; they work particularly well for family outings.
These give much more support than canes, because they don’t rely simply on the strength of your wrist; they use the strength and stability of the entire arm. A lot of models have an arm cuff and handgrip attached to a strong aluminum tube. If you need one for long-term use, you’ll want to avoid the wooden crutches that go under the armpit. Instead, choose one with an ergonomic handle, since these have been made to distribute pressure over a greater area of the hand. This makes them easier and safer to use. There are also crutches available specifically for those who have arthritis of the hands. You use them with a bent elbow and put your weight on your forearms.
For those that need extra confidence, walkers give them a sturdy frame for balance and distribution of weight. They come from simple metal frames with cane tips, to more “deluxe” models that have wheels or special stop and start wheels that easily roll when weight is removed, but lock when you press down. If you’ll be transporting one a lot, consider a folding model.
These “super walkers” are the best for mobility assistance and comfort. They have easy-rolling wheels and hand-grip brakes. You won’t have to shuffle anymore with these. Instead, you can roll with ease, and have full balance, plus a frame to lean on. What’s more—rollators have a backrest so you can rest if you need to.
The Mobility Superstore stocks over 6,000 independent living products that can help those who have mobility issues to live a freer life. Along with the mobility aides we mentioned above, they also have scooters, beds, reclining chairs, and electric wheelchairs.
As you can see, just because you’re struggling with mobility issues or balance doesn’t mean you have to become sedentary; you have a lot of options available to you; you just need to find the one that best meets your specific needs.